Good morning, fellow stockholders, ladies and gentlemen.
Although this annual meeting is to review the results and performance of the Company for 2019, the global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns prevented us from holding our scheduled physical meeting last April. Therefore, we are almost halfway into 2020, and our results have been in the public domain for months. I will, therefore, just recap 2019, and move on to the more pressing issue that is the pandemic and its global impact.
Consolidated volume increased by 4.5 percent to 10,178,018 TEUs in 2019, from 9,736,621 TEUs mainly due to volume ramp-up in Australia, and the contribution of our new terminal, ICTSI Rio.
Consolidated gross revenues for 2019 increased by 6.9 percent to USD1,481.4 billion, from USD1,385.8 billion.
Consolidated EBITDA increased by 9.9 percent to USD830.1 million, from USD755.4 million on the back of the consolidation of ICTSI Rio and improvement of EBITDA margin to 56.0 percent in 2019, from 54.5 percent in 2018.
Consolidated cash operating expenses was USD464.2 million, from USD452.2 million in 2018, an increase of only 2.6 percent.
Consolidated net income decreased by 43.7 percent to USD132.7 million, from USD235.8 million largely from the one-off non-cash impairment for the assets of TecPlata, which we re-valued in light of the prolonged difficult economic conditions in Argentina. Without the impairment net income would have been USD288.7 million.
Consolidated net income attributable to equity holders decreased to USD100.4 million, from USD207.5 million.
Basic and diluted earnings per share decreased to 2 cents, from 7.1 cents in 2018.
Preparing for a comeback
As you all know, the global pandemic started to engulf the world in early March and one after another, countries began locking down as the virus spread throughout. By the end of March, every single country where we operate was on lockdown in one way or another. As a result, all trade whether by sea or air was impacted and travel ceased to exist. Throughout these lockdowns, all of our ports – without exception --continued 24/7 operations being an essential and vital service.
We have seen the severe impact of the pandemic on global trade flows starting from China in February and cascading to all by the end of March and at this juncture we still do not see the end in sight. But I can tell you that the impact has not been as severe as we ourselves expected, proving once again the tremendous resilience of our business.
Reacting quickly to the situation we have slashed almost all new capital expenditures to almost nothing leaving only those projects that were about to be completed and those absolutely necessary.
We have cut our capex budget from the original USD270 million to approximately USD160 million, having already spent USD 60 million at the time of the pandemic. We have also drastically cut our operating cost budget by 11 percent across the board with further cuts planned.
But even during this crisis, we are still keenly on the lookout for opportunities to expand our portfolio and continue to be very active in seeking out potential acquisitions or new projects whose potential or valuation makes sense in this environment.
Given the great uncertainty of many economies and the global economy itself, we have shored up our balance sheet, and we will continue to seize every opportunity to further strengthen our finances going forward.